IP to sell off land

Published 8:57 pm Friday, July 30, 2010

FRANKLIN — International Paper Co. has reached an agreement to sell 163,000 acres in eight southeastern states, including 10,500 in Virginia, to a Florida firm that invests in timberland.

IP will sell the land to an affiliate of Rock Creek Capital of Jacksonville for $200 million. The name of the affiliate was not revealed.

IP officials confirmed Tuesday that of the acreage in Virginia, 5,500 acres are in Suffolk, 3,100 are in Isle of Wight County and 1,300 are in Southampton County. Another 500 acres are in Prince George County and 100 are in Greensville County.

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“Our real estate group has been actively marketing and selling properties in this area for many years,” Donna Wadsworth, a spokesperson for IP, said Tuesday. She added that the sale to Rock Creek had nothing to do with the Franklin paper mill, which closed on June 30.

Ashton Hudson, president and general counsel for Rock Creek, was not available for comment on Tuesday, but the company’s website indicates the firm purchases timberland for long-term investments.

Under the terms of the sale, IP is to receive a minimum of $160 million at closing, and the rest of the balance, plus interest, within three years. IP also announced July 22 that it would receive 20 percent of the Rock Creek affiliate’s net profits “after it achieves certain financial returns.”

“This sale will substantially complete the monetization of our forest land and realty holdings,” Dave Liebetreu, IP’s vice president for global sourcing and forest resources, said in the July 22 announcement. “The transaction represents good value in this economic environment and allows us to participate in the upside potential as the real estate market recovers.”

A closing date for the sale was not specified.